MailChimp… Not For Affiliate Marketers

Art of Blog has been a MailChimp supporter for sometime now.

Checkout our MailChimp Review: Easy Email Marketing

MailChimp is an excellent platform to manage your Newsletters. In fact some of the largest online brands use and trust MailChimp everyday.

But a serious problem comes up if you are an affiliate marketer who uses MailChimp.

For starters, affiliate marketers are BANNED by MailChimp!

MailChimp Bans Users Who Promote Affiliate Links

Checkout out “Section F” under their Terms of Use.

You’ll see Affiliate Marketers, right in between MLM and Credit Repair. On a list that also includes Escorts, Illegal Goods and Gambling as services and industries that are barred from using MailChimp.

MailChimp Terms of Use, Prohibited Industries

Probably not the best company for Affiliate Marketing to be associated with.

Okay, so a good majority of those industries are understandable… but what does that mean for someone who has a MailChimp account and includes affiliate links without realizing that they are violating these terms.

Users May Be Confused And Not Realize That They Are In Violation

MailChimp Barring Account Access

Especially after seeing some of the MailChimp themes, like the Amazon and Coupon.

In fact if you read the very next section on the MailChimp Terms of Use they even joke that if you read that far into the terms… you are probably associated with an industry that is frequently associated with spam.

MailChimp says that they’ll cancel your account and block you from your own list… if you are caught in violation.

That’s all I needed to hear!

Imagine working hard building your list, then finding out one day that it’s all gone.

MailChimp is taking a very serious stance against term violators. They have a team made-up of MailChimp employees and independent contracted workers using internal technology to review the content of emails being sent out.

I don’t know about you… but that looks pretty serious to me.


MailChimp is a great service… but they are positioning themselves as a pure newsletter service.

I think that they do a brilliant job at that, they make it very easy for anyone to jump right in and create a very eye-catching newsletter. They have all the analytics tools that you would expect, and I really love their ebooks.

They just aren’t a service that affiliate marketers should be using… again not because they are bad.

They are just looking to work with a different type of customer.

If you are planning to do affiliate marketing, my best recommendation is using AWeber. You can read my review: AWeber: The Best Email Management System? and decide if AWeber makes sense for your business.

To be totally fair, I haven’t heard of many MailChimp users being banned… but I just don’t like the idea of my business being in jeopardy so easily, basically loosing all of your subscribers in an instant.

Not my kind of odds.

What do you think? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments section. I’m really interested in what everyone has to say.

Written by Wilson Davalos

I'm a New Media Veteran who has worked at some amazing tech start-ups in Silicon Alley. My career transitioned into photography, with thanks to Complex & Interview Magazine.



  • Adam Baird says:

    I think its a shame that they’ve taken this stance. The provide a great service, and their free plan up to 2k subscribers allows anyone to get a list started.

    You can’t risk losing your business though, and, let’s face it, for many of us our list is our business.

    I’ve even heard of them banning users for sending out e-mails that link to pages containing affiliate links. Scary stuff.

  • I’ve been meaning to post about this myself, and you beat me to it! A good friend and affiliate marketer had his MailChimp account shut down last fall, and one of my website design clients – a bona fide mortgage company – was denied by MailChimp because of the industry they’re in. AWeber may not hand out bananas, but they do the work hard on their end to make sure your list is clean before they accept it – and then they don’t judge your revenue stream so harshly.

    Points up that the TOS most of us never read when signing up for services – important to take that 5-10 minutes – can save hours of time and frustration, and thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

  • Kenn says:

    Well, let’s be honest. Affiliate marketing has a bad name because it’s often historically meant borderline, if not outright, spamming. Just like all those other prohibited things on the list.

    Anyone but the most brazen professional spammers will argue that what they’re doing isn’t spamming, or that they bought their opt-in list from a reputable source (hint: this is impossible), or that they’re complying with CAN-SPAM, or they threaten to sue for defamation if you call them a spammer, and on and on and on. A policy like this one nips those arguments in the bud. I think it’s pretty unlikely that MailChimp will terminate anyone for legitimate affiliate marketing, but this gives them an easy way of getting rid of the spammers without having to delve into the spam issue itself.

    Note that I’m not calling all affiliate marketers spammers, nor would I paint all stock market, gambling, or porn newsletters as spam. But there is a much higher than average likelihood of it. As you say, that’s not the best company to be associated with, but that’s the way it is with that business. It sounds like MailChimp indeed isn’t the service for that sort of thing, but a policy like this should hardly be surprising.

    (Also, what’s with the popup? Didn’t we learn a decade ago that those are terrible for your site’s readers?)

    • Wilson Davalos says:

      Well MailChimp doesn’t just let you import a list… every list has to be opt-in again. So marketers who buy or rent mailing list, won’t be able to spam people using MailChimp.

      I don’t know how vigilate MailChimp is about affiliate links, but if they are telling you that they have a team and even have proprietary technology to scrub emails being sent. Then I would probably want to stop using them for any affiliate marketing.

      (it’s a newsletter lightbox… think about it as a pop-up evolved. It’s smart and knows not to show it to you if you’ve declined it before)

      • Jeanie says:

        but it showed it to me TWICE…and I didn’t even clear my cookies. What happens when people clear their cookies? Does it still know that we don’t want to see popups, evolved or not?
        Big discussion on G+ with Benny Lewis, Corbett Barr, and Karol Gajda about this one…

        I do sometimes link to affiliate things in my posts…and I send out blog broadcasts….ugh. Problem is, it’s hard to justify $19/mo for 2 subscribers. (I Know….I’m doing things all wrong here.) :( Need to ramp it up, I suppose!

    • > Affiliate marketing has a bad name because it’s often historically meant borderline, if not outright, spamming.

      Often or historically? Either way, it’s ignorant to paint affiliate marketers with a broad brush over a small sector of bad actors.

      Are SEOs often historically all black hats, too?

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  • Rob woods says:

    If I’m reading this correctly they are just against affiliate links in the actual body of the email and linking to a page with affiliate links on it is Ok. Anyone have an opinion on that? I’m not SURE that’s what they are saying but that’s how I interpret this.

  • I’m using MailChimp to run a paid subscription service. Mainly, because it was easy to set up and I haven’t figured out how to sync Aweber with Amazon Payments. So far, so good, but reading this, still concerns me. I don’t use a ton of affiliate links in my emails, but still, the thought that it’s in clear violation of their TOS and there’s that dangling “what if,” isn’t very comforting.

  • Salia says:

    They do have an export function on their list, so you can download all your subscribers to a csv periodically if you’re worried. I really like their service and don’t want to switch…

  • Jeff says:

    Yeah, Mailchimp prohibits a lot of stuff because they want good email deliverability. Definitely consider their terms of service before you start building a list using their service.

    Aweber has also been known to close accounts with no notice whatsoever. Google it and you will see plenty of examples. What they did to get cancelled – I have no idea.

    But, if you look at Aweber’s terms of service (service agreement), you will see this:

    “AWeber Systems shall have the right to suspend service to the subscriber at any time, and for any reason, without notice.”

    Not very comforting. Good idea to download your list periodically, as mentioned in the comments.


  • Steve says:

    I have used MailChimp and Aweber. I dropped MailChimp after hearing the same issues about losing a person’s list. The worst part of the deal is they do not give the user a chance to get a copy back once the account is closed. Like stated above, make a backup as needed.

    Then I did the $1 Aweber deal and it is a good program but my needs where not worth $19 per month or more.

    I do wonder as Rob woods asked, what is the extent of the true meaning for affiliate links? Does it mean if YOU are an affiliate producer or if you just have a few affiliate links on your site from other providers?

    It would be hard to find a website without some sort of affiliate link on it. I do understand the need to curb real spammers who send out thousands of emails a day to whoever they have on a list. But for most small marketers, a nice list might only be 1000 or less.

    I started using a simple plugin called Easy Sign Up. For about $20, onetime payment you can buy add-on’s that let you customize the online display and it will add any signups to an onsite database and email the webmaster about the new customer. It works real sweet for a small list of 10 to 500 and the cost is very cheap with no limits or controls on what you do with your list.

    The database can be integrated into a simple Excel file and then setup to do a normal email mailing list.

    I personally hate monthly charges for any service. I do think if a person’s website grew to the point of profit margins that where booming, then the cost for Aweber would be worth it of course.

  • Hunter says:

    What are you guys using for the address requirement in Aweber? Do you just have a PO Box setup?

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  • Louis Slade says:

    Along with Google and Amazon taking a stand against affiliate marketing, Mailchimp’s perspective on affiliate marketing is surely going to cause a huge shift. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.

  • Kulwant Nagi says:

    Can u please help me to integrate mail chimp with popup Domination !! I would be really thankful to you.

  • Robert Jirda says:

    Yes, pippity is really good, though their templates are not exactly what I would want to use most of the time.

    I have plugins that are set to mailchimp/aweber and couple more options, if mailchimp is out of the picture, I am not even considering aweber and that leaves me with very little wiggle space to choose from. Dont want to pay $300 a month

    Luckily it seems they aren’t as tough, when it is decent use. I think their quotation was affiliate links yes as long as they are accompanied by relevant content. But that is the magazine. Should always check with them or choose something else.

    If integration isn’t a problem, I had rather good experience with self hosted phpList. And it is free too:)

  • Jay Harrison says:

    I have a very small list and still using Aweber mainly because of high delivery rate and it’s not possible to just import the list if I used something else and later move to Aweber. I was tempted to use self-hosting apps but worry about my server IP or website being banned.

    Too bad MailChimp doesn’t allow affiliate marketers. MadMimi is another alternative that is free for small list. The downside is you need to purchase advanced features like drip newsletter, but it’s still cheaper than Aweber.

  • Lesa says:

    This is a quote from Mailchimp’s TOS: “Generally speaking, if you’re in an industry that is frequently associated with spam, you know who you are…. most ESPs like MailChimp will not be able to help you. You will most likely need to look into setting up your own mail servers.” Mailchimp may be the only ESP to put this type of language in their TOS, but they aren’t the only ones paying attention. Mailchimp’s deliverability is among the best because they have been diligent about what types of content are sent by their services. I believe that as businesses see less success from email marketing, there will be more competition among the ESPs for the available customers, and as a result, all ESPs will take a similiar stand. So, if you are in an industry that is frequently associated with spam, and you intend to be a high volume mailer, set up your own mail servers like they suggest.

  • Judy says:

    If you’re in the on-line gaming or adult business (like me), you may want to go with Ynotmail. It’s a little more expensive monthly than the others, but you can sent up to 2,500 mails monthly $39.99 without having to worry about your list getting blown away. A few bucks more is worth the peace of mind to me…

  • Dudeman says:

    lolz you know what’s funny? I’ve been with MC for over 2 years as an AFFILIATE MARKETER and am still riding high! Of course I got back ups, but I know how to market everything (including my affiliate offers) so that it appears to be “legit” in MC’s eyes. I think their position is also to promote white hat marketing over the many AM’s that are shady even with their own lists. I’ve had no probs so far and I don’t think I will! =P

  • Brett says:

    MailChimp sucks!

    I ran a list for 2 months on there before they suspended my account for being in violation of their t&c’s.

    That’s fair enough (although I’m not a marketer and had no idea my list would be considered “dodgy”).

    The thing is they took my month’s payment then cancelled my account the next day! I’ll raise a chargeback to teach that monkey a lesson.

    P.S. Let me know of any alternatives (I run a dating site).

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  • Banhawi says:

    I always used MailChimp, they are the best in terms of ease of use, usability and many more, But unfortunately not accepting affiliate links that’s a deal breaker.

  • I’ve been using Mailchimp for a while and love that it’s free (for my list so far) and easy to use. What else is out there that is free but reliable like Mailchimp – MadMimi only allows for 100 subscribers?

    • Eric Binnion says:

      Hey Alaina,

      Mailchimp is definitely great because they allow 2,000 subscribers free! That’s awesome. But, at the same time, be wary. If you do affiliate marketing, then Mailchimp can delete your list. We have heard several stories of this happening.

  • Danny says:

    This is a very important topic, Wilson….

    Mail Chimp was the first service I had very strong interest in, and it was due to the confusion over their policies that made we steer away…and I would have had no problem upgrading to paid…once my 2000 limit was reached…

    I and many other people have been going back and forth, deciding whether to jump on board the free Mail Chimp set up, for the fact that they do not allow any Affiliate offers/links etc through the free service…..

    I use another free service that does not have this issue(It’s also first 2000 subs free) though, the service I use is having problems integrating with my recently acquired popup(subscriber) plugin…
    My Plugin apparently is perfectly matched up with Mail chimp, and other big name services….

    It’s a real shame about Mail Chimp….

    Most people would probably upgrade to their paid services once the go past the 2000 subs limit, except their policy on affiliates may have already put many people off long before then…..

  • WpFaqs says:

    Mailchimp Mailing Platform is actually Run By some Idiots that’s why they ban affiliates marketers!

  • Kathryn says:

    You are misreporting the facts. Mailchimp does not ban people simply for using affiliate links. See their own article:

    Your post contains affiliate links for AWeber, so you encourage AWeber signups – and by extension money in your own pocket – by spreading untruths about Mailchimp.

    • Eric Binnion says:


      Up until recently, Mailchimp’s TOS specifically banned affiliate marketers. What’s funny is the article that you linked was last updated in Oct 2012. Check out this twitter conversation that discusses the issue as of November 2012. You should notice that the TOS do NOT backup what Mailchimp is saying.

      With that said, we do have affiliate links for both Mailchimp and Aweber on this website. We do like both services, and use both for different products of ours. But, we do not recommend Mailchimp for affiliate marketers.

      • Brett says:

        I didn’t get a MailChimp ban, but they wouldn’t let me send mails!

        Well that was the same thing really!!!

        Don’t listen to the MailChimp fanboys/girls – it’s an effectively useless service if you have any notion of actually monetising your list!

  • Nicole says:

    Investigating myself, since I’m switching from my current service, and I was pointed to this:

    In it, Mail Chimp explains they block “spammy” stuff, but not relevant, reputable affiliate links.

    Hope you find it helpful. I think I’m going with MailChimp. Thanks for the info!

  • Mark Bland says:

    My account just got banned/shutdown from MailChimp. I heard it was a good service so Imported 800 of my customers and tried to email an offer out to them. the next morning I was shutdown because they don’t allow ‘work at home’ emails !!

    what a waste! Dont try and market with MailChimp!